The Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A-Level) examination is one of the toughest assessments you would have to sit for in your academic life.
We are by no means exaggerating. Firstly, you are competing with the best exam takers in Singapore. Secondly, the examination questions are extremely demanding.
Let us first talk about why the Singapore-Cambridge GCE A level examination questions are different from the Cambridge International A level papers.
Comparing Singapore-Cambridge and Cambridge International Examination Paper4
For this article, we would be examining the Chemistry and Physics A level examination papers from both Singapore-Cambridge and Cambridge International.
For the Cambridge International A level, candidates are warned that there will be a question that is out of the syllabus in one of the papers. From the specimen papers, only one question from the practical assessment is not within the syllabus and the rest of the papers adhere strictly to the syllabus requirements. The questions are organised in a manner that candidates can narrow down the topics and sub-topics easily. Most of the formats for the questions are similar in previous years. The data needed to answer the question is presented prior to the question itself. Basically, the assessment papers are designed and developed to ensure
• candidates know where to look for the data
• candidates are clear on the topic and sub-topic being asked
• candidates are only asked questions within the syllabus except during practical assessment
In coaching our A level tuition students (since 2000), the Singapore Cambridge A level examination papers are designed with the following demands:
• candidates are expected to look for data and must read the information provided carefully, and in certain questions, information provided is of no consequence to what is being asked
• candidates are expected to learn a new area of knowledge, which is not in the syllabus or was removed from the old syllabus, in the exam hall, and be able to apply them to the questions. In certain demanding questions, the newly acquired knowledge needs to be integrated with knowledge from the syllabus in order to be applied correctly.
• candidates are given a long passage typically a 1-page peppered with data and tables, and a new science concept/knowledge
• candidates are required to sieve through the information in order to answer a series of questions. The series of questions can be from a series of topics and sub-topics.
We do use the Cambridge International questions during chemistry tuition and physics tuition sessions. The science students attending these JC tuition lessons would have no problems solving them. However, the syllabi for Cambridge International Chemistry and Physics cover a wider range of topics as compared to Singapore-Cambridge.
Competence of Students sitting for GCE A level
Most students who are taking the A level examination in Singapore would have scored a B3 or above during GCE O level for that subject or has done extremely well in PSLE to earn them a place in Integrated Programme.
Most of these students have attended PSLE tuition during their preparation for Primary School Leaving examinations or secondary tuition for GCE O level examination, and thus they are coached to focus on the marking schemes and various examination techniques to ace the assessments.
In short, the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level is not for the adventurous, it is for those who are determined, hardworking and intellectually prepared.